Olympic Countdown: Badminton: Rashid poised

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The Independent Online
THE sport's Olympic debut should have an enormous effect upon the public image and self- belief of two nations, writes James Leigh.

Indonesia, which has the world's No 1 women's singles player in Susi Susanti, has only ever won one Olympic medal before, in archery; Malaysia has won none.

However, the Sidek brothers, five of whom have played international badminton, should change all that. Razif and Jalani Sidek, the world grand prix title- holders, could win a medal in the men's doubles, and their younger brother Rashid Sidek should do so in the men's singles.

Rashid was the player who beat China's world champion Xhao Jianhua in the Thomas Cup world team finals in Kuala Lumpur in May. When Malaysia

won that for the first time in 25 years a national holiday was declared.

Britain have realistic medal chances only in the women's doubles. Gill Clark and Julie Bradbury, the English national champions, and the world's sixth-ranked pair of Gillian Gowers and Sara Sankey both reached this year's semi-finals of the All-England Championships, the world's best-known tournament.

However, the South Koreans are favourites for gold in both women's and men's doubles.

GREAT BRITAIN: Men: Singles: D Hall, A Nielsen. Doubles: D Wright, N Ponting, A Goode, C Hunt.

Women: Singles: H Troke, J Muggeridge. Doubles: G Clark, J Bradbury, G Gowers, S Sankey.